Global expedition leader receives South Carolina Chamber’s prestigious military award

Mullikin honored for distinguished federal and state military service

By Christopher D. Carter

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Thomas Stowe “Tom” Mullikin, S.C. State Guard (SCSG), the former commanding general of the SCSG and a former U.S. Army officer, was presented the 2023 William Jasper Freedom Award by the S.C. Chamber of Commerce during ceremonies at the Chamber’s 44th Annual Summit, Westin Hilton Head Island Resort, Tuesday, Nov. 14. The award was presented for Mullikin’s “significant military service to South Carolina and the nation,” according to a Chamber statement released Oct. 25.

Mullikin’s military service includes an initial stint in the Judge Advocate General Corps, U.S. Army Reserve. His first duty assignment was with the 12th Legal Support Organization where he served as a trial counsel. He then served as International Legal Officer for the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne). While in the Army, Mullikin served as a master fitness instructor (he is a graduate of the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School) and a self-defense instructor (he holds a black belt in traditional karate and is a member of the S.C. Black Belt Hall of Fame, the U.S. Martial Arts Hall of Fame and the London International Martial Arts Hall of Fame).

Post-U.S. Army service, Mullikin was commissioned into the Joint Services Detachment, S.C. Military Department (SCMD) where he served on the SCMD’s Counterterrorism Task Force, precursor to the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team. It was also during this time that he served in a civilian capacity as special assistant to the Chief Prosecutor, Military Commissions, U.S. Department of Defense. The Military Commissions was responsible for prosecuting the 9/11 terrorists.

Transferring from the Joint Services Detachment to the SCSG, he quickly became SCSG’s chief of staff and deputy commander, ultimately earning two stars as the SCSG commanding general. During his time in state defense force service, Mullikin earned parachutist wings from numerous foreign military forces.

Military service aside, Mullikin is an energy-environmental attorney, university professor, world-renowned explorer and remote-wilderness expedition leader having hiked and climbed mountain ranges stretching across every continent on earth. He has logged SCUBA dives in every ocean on earth. He is a Master Diver (PADI) and dive instructor (PSAI), and he holds certification as a polar diver for his ice dives in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans.

Mullikin also holds a PhD from Columbia International University.

The current chair of the S.C. Floodwater Commission (founded by S.C. Governor Henry McMaster), Mullikin was recently appointed (by Gov. McMaster) to the board of directors of the S.C. Conservation Bank.

Receiving the prestigious Jasper Award, Mullikin said: “The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce is leading the way in the economic renaissance the state is enjoying today. Its leaders are some of the best in the nation. I was proud to receive this award from them on behalf of my father, a decorated World War II veteran and the many U.S. military special operators who remain in the fight around the world today.”

In terms of time and personal resources, Mullikin has for years supported American military veterans – both individuals and organizations – primarily members of U.S. special operations forces, to include leading or accompanying former and retired special operators on mountaineering expeditions and leading teams of SCUBA divers during training evolutions and in the construction of SMART reef systems off the U.S. east coast.

The S.C. Chamber’s William Jasper Award is the namesake of the legendary Sergeant William Jasper, 2nd S.C. Regiment, Continental Army, who in a dramatic demonstration of heroism raised the state’s colors atop the parapet at Fort Sullivan (aka Fort Moultrie, S.C.) during the Battle of Sullivan’s Island, American Revolution, June 28, 1776.

For more information about the South Carolina Chamber’s 2023 awards and recipients, please visit –

– Pictured L-R are Thomas Rhodes, partner Rhodes Companies; Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Tom Mullikin, PhD; and Bob Morgan, president and CEO of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce (Photo courtesy of Mike Ritterbeck)

– Chris Carter is a former semi-pro football player and U.S. Air Force veteran whose articles have appeared in OpsLens, Human Events, Canada Free Press, Deutsche Welle, and other publications.


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